Ariana DeBose as the voice of Asha in Wish

‘Wish’ Is the Biggest Disney Disappointment in a Long Time

Wish, the latest computer-animated film from Disney, arrived in the year that marks the company’s centennial. Despite being released during a nostalgic and celebratory time, Wish is attracting controversy.

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Well, sort of. There’s nothing specifically controversial or provocative about Wish. However, the film is generating a lot of conversation, criticism, and disagreement—not because it’s offensive, but because it’s not very good. As expected, given Disney’s centennial, Wish is largely focused on celebrating the company’s history. There are dozens of callbacks and references to Disney’s animated classics, and the film is concentrated on wishes, an icon of the company. Additionally, the story is so formulaic it will make viewers nostalgic for the early days of Disney animation, when most films featured a brave heroine confronted by magic and enchantment.

Wish follows Asha (Ariana DeBose), a young woman living in the magical kingdom of Rosas, who seeks to grant her 100-year-old grandfather’s wish. When King Magnifico (Chris Pine) denies her grandfather’s wish, Asha becomes suspicious of his power over Rosas and what he does with the inhabitants’ wishes. Since Asha is the only one who sees through Magnifico, it’s up to her—along with a magical star and a talking goat—to protect the kingdom.

Unfortunately, Wish‘s nostalgic premise is not sitting well with audiences.

Is Disney’s Wish really that bad?

Chris Pine as a Disney king in Wish
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Criticism of Wish started before the film even premiered. Ahead of its release, Disney gave viewers a preview of the soundtrack by uploading “This Is The Thanks I Get?” by Chris Pine on YouTube and TikTok. Unfortunately, users were not impressed by the song. TikTok users started sharing snippets of the song and filming their reactions, with most questioning if Disney was okay or wondering what exactly was happening to the company. One user even played the Wish song alongside the masterful soundtrack from Encanto to demonstrate its mediocrity in comparison.

It’s not a terrible song. The vocals are pretty decent, but the beat feels off, and the lyrics don’t exactly make for the scary, foreboding song one would expect from a Disney villain. Meanwhile, there wasn’t a whole lot of marketing for Wish. For some viewers, roasts of “This Is the Thanks I Get?” were the only introduction they had. So, even before its premiere, Wish was already labeled one of the worst Disney movies, and a prime example of how far the company has fallen. Those who did go to see Wish instead of judging it on one song didn’t walk away with a much-improved perspective.

Wish‘s reviews have been very mixed. It currently has a 49% score on Rotten Tomatoes and has been struggling to stay afloat at the box office. Even the positive reviews acknowledge that it’s not a very strong film, and certainly not on par with the Disney classics, though it is magical and entertaining enough to get through. Most of the criticism stems from Disney going too far to make viewers feel nostalgic for its past. Having a film pay tribute to its history is a wonderful idea, but Wish gets so carried away with trying to reference the past that it’s barely a movie on its own.

In keeping with the centennial theme, Wish has 100 Easter eggs and references to Disney’s past. Such references are usually fun, but 100? No film should have so many Easter eggs that its directors need an Excel sheet to remember each one of them. Meanwhile, these references turn redundant quickly. Why is Asha just randomly called a “Fairy Godmother?” Does Magnifico really have to say, “Mirrors, mirrors, on the wall?” Why does Valentino (Alan Tudyk) have a random desire to create a Zootopia? There’s little humor to these references, which feel forced and senseless. The plot is very much the same. Wish wants to get back to Disney’s roots, so it feels formulaic and familiar, but the premise doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Disney wanted a film representing it and its history but clearly didn’t know how to pull it off.

That being said, Wish does have a few positives, especially DeBose’s powerful performance as Asha. There’s still a sense of magic and an inspiring story about wishes coming true. Still, it largely feels like a mash-up of every major animated film rather than a truly original and inspiring story. Disney doesn’t need to recreate the past or reference every movie it has ever made to celebrate its history. A better celebration would’ve been a new story that simply embraced the classic magic, creativity, and imagination that made the company flourish in the first place. Viewers were right to expect more from Wish as the culmination of a 100-year history. Perhaps that’s why their disappointment feels especially pronounced.

(featured image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.